Hello again. I hope this letter finds you’ve all had a healthy and peaceful 2005. As for us, gratefully, we are all well, even with me being just a tad brittle around the edges.
I thought last year was bad with Tara leaving for college and with me being forced to come to terms with the beginning of, what I now see as the almost-empty-nest-syndrome, but that was nothing. The full power of my predicament hit me when my poor daughter came home from college in April and the next day I had the mother of all meltdowns when I realized that she wasn’t really coming home, but from now on, she would just be visiting. I can’t tell you how much this sucked, but to borrow an expression from my children, it sucked balls, and I’ve got to tell you, that’s pretty bad.
To make matters worse, Tara decided to study in France for a year beginning this fall. This wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that, at the moment, I don’t fly. Things got particularly hairy when she got sick for the first 6 weeks she was there and every day I wondered what I would do if she needed me and I had to fly to her. Every time I thought of getting on that tight, cramped plane, with all those people squeezed together, I about had another anxiety attack. Thankfully, she turned a corner and my feet were allowed to stay firmly on the ground. For those of you whispering to your loved one right about now, “man, this chick needs help and she needs it fast,” please rest assured that I am currently in the throes of some major therapy.
As for the good news, Tara is having the time of her life. She is living with a wonderful host family in a beautiful old apartment right in the center of Montpellier. She says that eating the way the French do makes her body feel nourished from the inside out. And the boys she’s meeting, well, suffice it to say; I’m vicariously reliving my youth through her. Funk got to visit with Tara for a few days this fall when he was asked to give a paper in Ireland. It was his first time in Europe and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I felt much better knowing he laid eyes on my baby and that she really was fine.
Tara is becoming quite the world traveler over there, which is a good thing as she is learning the ropes for when we join her in Europe this summer. Yes, the funks are going to Europe – by boat! Funk is taking an extended vacation from work and is in the process of securing a grant to do research in 5 different European countries on the titillating subject of auditing. So, while he works, the family will play. We are trying to arrange a home-exchange with a family in Spain to cut costs, but the grant should cover most of the expenses for us to be there for the entire summer. I am excited, yet nervous, as I am a homebody at heart and I can’t imagine being away from home for so long.
Andrew has turned a corner this year. The other day he told me that he thinks he is finished going through puberty as he doesn’t need as much sleep in order to be nice anymore. Whether or not this is true, the way it plays out for me is that he is actually talking to me again like I am not a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe. We got him a Vespa for his 16th birthday, figuring that it would postpone him getting his driver’s license, but no such luck. Even the fact that he would have to drive his sister’s pink truck wouldn’t deter him. Our worst nightmare almost came true when Andrew got his license, on the first try mind you, and yes folks, within 5 days he had a wreck that did $5000 worth of damage to the van. Luckily, no one was hurt and insurance covered most of the damage. Finally, Andrew has decided to get serious about his schoolwork this year, but I think this is only because he feels that he is way more intelligent than his sister, and as such, he is determined to get higher scores on his SAT’s than she did. While I don’t really care who is smarter, I am rooting him on, as I would never turn down not having to pay for the cost of college.
And for some sad news, Funk’s dad died this year. It was a hard loss, as everyone loved Chet. He was such an eccentric and interesting man, with a beautiful soul. The happenings surrounding the funeral are what you would expect coming from this family. First, Chet’s third wife, Shirley, called Funk to “borrow” a suit for Chet to be buried in, followed by more phone calls asking to borrow a shirt and tie also. We, of course, wondered exactly how long the borrowing period would be, but being the gracious people that we are, we didn’t ask. To call Shirley cheap is an understatement, as she had her husband, who is 6’7”, buried in a standard-sized coffin. We spent a good amount of time wondering just how they went about getting his legs to fit in there, but the thoughts were getting too macabre, so we gave it up and just accepted the fact that even though poor Chet looked like a short little old Jewish man laid out in the box, it was indeed Chet in there.
Amazingly, we got through the funeral with no arguments, but as we were saying our final goodbye to Chet, out of nowhere, a light snow began to fall. By the time we got on the road heading home, the snow turned into an all out blizzard. I was driving and Funk was sitting in the back seat trying to sleep; against better advice, he was planning on teaching that night. Unfortunately, there were wrecks every 5-10 miles, so every time Funk started drifting off he’d be startled awake when he heard another car careening off into a ditch. My poor hubby was terrified that he’d be joining his father in the box shortly, if there were room in it, that is. Then, about halfway home, we had to make a pit stop. I was so wrung out by this time that I started to drive off while Funk was still in the McDonald’s. I could’ve sworn I heard him getting back into the van – but no one believes that I could’ve mistaken the sounds, or the lack thereof, of a 6’8” man climbing back into the back seat of the van. I didn’t notice that he was missing until I was just about to get back onto the highway and I heard the kids screaming, “Mom, what the f*ck are you doing?!” Andrew was so distraught by my actions that he wanted me to tell Funk that I wasn’t really forgetting him at the McDonald’s, 2 hours after we buried his father, but was, in fact, being extra nice and thoughtful over his loss by turning the van around so that I could pick him up right at the front door. Needless to say, I couldn’t lie, but I did decide that there was no use in trying to explain either, I figured that Funk would probably just think that I was choosing a really crappy time to play around, as usual.
Our conversations are strange these days:Me: periodically, when Funk walks into the room I’ll say, “Funk, your dad is dead”Funk: with an incredulous look on his face, “I know, why do you keep telling me this?”Me: “I just think it’s so weird. I can’t stop thinking about it, don’t you think about it all the time?”Funk: “Just when you remind me”
So there you have it, more evidence of my purpose in life – to make every husband that is still drawing breath, relieved once again, that they don’t have me for their wife.
Much love, laughter, health and blessings to all of you in the coming year.
P.S. I almost forgot to add the other joys that we experienced this year. Andrew’s friend from 4th grade, Alex, and his brother Nick, who have been like a part of our family for a very long time now have been staying with us on and off for about a year now. Their mom, Becky, has to travel with her job, so we get the privilege of their presence. While they very much know who their “real” mom is, Funk and I get to have the larger family we always dreamed of.
Last, but not least, is our little Pipo, our exchange student from Austria. He was our 9th exchange student and definitely one of our favorites. He was one of the few students that had such a good command of English that he was able to get the nuances of quiet humor. He was a lot of fun to be around, not as much fun as me, but a close 2nd, and we all miss him a lot. The good thing about having exchange students is that it is another way of extending your family. All of the kids that we took in as family remain in our hearts as family forever, at least as far as we are concerned anyway.